Cleveland Browns: Kevin Stefanski is the 2020 Coach of the Year, full stop
If Cleveland Browns rookie head coach Kevin Stefanski wasn’t the unanimous coach of the year already, his team’s destruction of the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round sealed the deal, and Stefanski watched the game from his basement.
With Stefanski and offensive line coach/assistant head coach Bill Callahan away from the team due to COVID-19, special teams coach Mike Priefer stepped in as acting head coach and led the Browns to a 48-37 victory. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt called plays for the first time this season, and assistant OL coach Scott Peters, defensive backs coach Jeff Howard, and tight ends coach Drew Petzig all missed the game as well. The staff was extremely shorthanded, as was the roster, but the Browns still dismantled the Steelers, who were playing at essentially full strength.
There were times where the absence of Stefanski was obvious; Priefer quickly challenged a completed catch that was clearly a catch, and Van Pelt’s playcalling became a predictable run-run-pass for a large chunk of the third quarter, but overall, the team overcame its losses better than anyone could have hoped, and that’s a testament to the man in charge.
In the build-up to the game, superstar EDGE Myles Garrett echoed a consistent Stefanski mantra: “You don’t rise to the occasion, you fall to the level of your preparation”. Stefanski has preached preparation from the day he was hired, and this is why. If you have a good plan, you don’t need to improvise.